Monday, 28 December 2015

Capel Fleet, Elmley and Dunge

A nice bright forecast had me heading down to Kent today.
I arrived at Capel Fleet at first light and watched first a Barn Owl then a larger Owl hunt from the watch point. In the half light it was difficult to call it from SEO or LEO. As the light improved the Harriers started to leave the roost with a count of fourteen Marsh and a single Hen (Ringtail)
The majority of harriers lifted straight up to gain height and then drifted straight over me towards Elmley and Oare. Two Marsh and the Hen Harrier lingered to hunt over the Capel Fleet area along with a couple of Common Buzzards.  A count of twenty plus Corn Bunting flitted between the overhead wires and some seed on the road and were joined by several Red-legged Partridge taking advantage of the free meal. Large groups of Starling flew around the mound and a Cetti's Warbler sang from nearby bushes.

Marsh Harrier
From Capel Fleet I moved on to Elmley and a drive down to the barn and back gave good views of several Marsh Harrier, three Common Buzzard and a nice Merlin. Again lots of Starling and good numbers of Fieldfare around. The ducks and waders are present but right at the back of the reserve and only evident when flushed by the passing Harriers when hundreds took to the skies in panic.

Marsh Harrier at Elmley
Marsh Harrier Elmley
Next stop was Dunge where I plotted up for a brief sea watch before sitting by the puddles to scan the gulls. I'd missed ten Sooty Shearwaters by arriving late but in the hour I watched I saw only Brent Geese, Wigeon, Guillemots, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Red-throated Diver and a single Bonxie.
At the puddles I quickly found the first winter Caspian Gull and enjoyed another hour with it.

Caspian Gull first winter Dungerness

Caspian Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull 
Jim and I visited Norfolk yesterday where we dipped on the Pallid Harrier but connected well with the Rough-legged Buzzard at Choseley. At Brancaster Staithe we watched two Short-eared Owls on the golf course but failed to find the Red-necked Grebe on this occasion. A quick stop at Thornham provided good views of a small group of Twite. Whilst waiting for the Harrier to show we had good numbers of Brambling in a huge finch flock and a Barn Owl hunted over the fields. Lot's of Common Buzzard around along with Red-legged Partridge. Muntjac and Roe Deer entertained along with several Hare and a Stoat while we waited in vain for the Pallid to arrive. Sods law the bird has showed well all day today!

Rough-legged record shot

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